Are you worried you’re too old to get into tech? If you’re looking to switch careers and tech looks interesting, but you’re worried that your age will stop you from getting a good job in the industry, this post is for you!
I get these questions a lot: Am I too old to get into tech? Am I too old to learn how to code? Am I too old to change careers?
The short answer is “no”. Let me explain why and help you determine whether tech is right for you – because that’s a much better question!
Tech needs all types of diversity
Technology is a wonderful industry, but it has a ton of stereotypes around it. If you hear that someone is a “programmer” without knowing anything else about that person, it’s very likely that you visualise them as a young asocial white male. This stereotype has been ingrained in us because since the 1970’s the industry has been predominantly comprised of that demographic.
Don’t focus too much on stereotypes, they’re unproductive. Focus on what you can bring to the table and what you really want from your next career move. Technology is all about problem-solving. The best way to solve problems is to have a diverse team, which includes diversity of age. If anything, you have a lot of awesome experience and a different perspective, which, when applied strategically, can bring so much value.
Now that we’ve established that the technology industry needs you, let’s briefly talk about ageism in the workplace. Unfortunately, it still hasn’t entirely disappeared and does exist in companies with backwards values and hiring practices. However, there are plenty of companies that have moved past that and that have implemented fair hiring practices. In fact, in certain places, it’s illegal to ask a job candidate their age during the interview. I know in the US it may vary state by state, for example, so search whether it’s legal where you live.
So don’t let the idea that you’re the wrong age stop you from pursuing your dreams – or be an excuse why you don’t even try. If you’re determined, you will find the right company that will value your experience and skills. Besides, with remote work becoming the new normal, your pool of potential jobs has widened even further. You can apply for remote positions in companies that value diversity and have an inclusive company culture.
You have so much value to offer these companies, it’s all about how you position yourself and your experience. Non-tech experience gives you a competitive edge and allows you to find a niche. I’ve done an interview with 3 self-taught women in tech who have used their non-technical backgrounds to their advantage.
Is tech right for you?
Now the bigger question is – is technology right for you? It may look shiny and like a great opportunity from the outside, but do you understand what some of the jobs entail? Have you done your research on what’s out there and do you understand what you want to do?
Whenever anyone asks me what tech field they should choose for themselves, I respond with questions: What are you interested in? Do you know what lights you up? What makes you curious and puts you into the state of flow? Are there certain types of problems you like to solve?
Do you know what is good for yourself? Because that’s where I would start. Of course, when you’re looking at tech as an outsider, it’s hard to understand what it’s like to be on the inside. However, there’s such a wealth of information online about it, that using this as an excuse is not acceptable.
Do your research on what jobs are out there, follow people in those roles on social media, reach out to them and ask questions. If you don’t know where to start on that, I will leave some helpful resources in the description and will also create a video on the topic soon.
Use free coding courses to see if you enjoy writing code and explore what languages are out there. The reason why I think free courses are the best way to go at this point is that you don’t want you to invest money without knowing that this is something you want to pursue. There are many awesome free resources available online. These will help you a get a better idea of what you enjoy and what isn’t for you. I have compiled a list of Free Coding Courses.
Learn about what different languages are used for and see if you’re interested in those technologies. Explore, experiment, try to find what you enjoy doing. Be open-minded, programming is a different way of thinking – so don’t be afraid to feel like a newbie.
Your goal is to find which direction you would like to take if you were to go into the tech industry. That is key here. Maybe you will find that you’re not interested in going into tech after all – and that’s ok too! The main point is to eliminate uncertainty and that “what if”.
If you find the right field for you, start learning and building your skills. You want to be a great candidate first and foremost, don’t focus on your age and simply learn. It’s most likely not going to be easy, especially if you’re learning in your free time after a full-time job, but it’s possible. That’s how a lot of self-taught programmers have done it, in fact! I have a playlist of interviews with self-taught women in tech and I highly recommend watching it.
I want to reiterate this: make sure you’re excited about the direction of your career change, that you have done your research and understand what it entails. This process will not be a walk in the park and you might come close to giving up. It’s important that the opportunity excites you to make all of the hard work worth it.
Find a supportive, similar aged community
No matter what career change you decide on, try to find people your age who have either gone through the same experience or are in the same boat right now. Having a supportive community will elevate your experience to the next level, help you feel less alone or like a failure and help you build incredible relationships!
Search online for different types of career changers your age that feel like-minded and will understand you. For example, there’s a community for mums who are learning how to code and transitioning into tech! And on social media you will find all sorts of accounts and groups – whether on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social media.
Stop making excuses about your age
Finally, I want you to implement a no-excuses policy. “I’m too old for something” – is an excuse that a lot of people use to hide from their fears! Whether it’s a fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection – or a fear of standing out from the crowd.
Excuses are our brain’s way of rationalising why we can’t do something we’re afraid of. Our brains don’t like change because it puts our survival at risk – or at least it did thousands of years ago. Risks in the modern world aren’t the same, so if you really want to achieve something, figure out what it is that you’re afraid of and look that fear in the eye. Stop making excuses because what’s the worst thing that can happen? You might get rejected, but your survival chances certainly will not change.
Don’t wait or procrastinate, start acting on your dreams now. You don’t want to wake up 10 or 20 or 30 years from now and regret not having pursued them. Now is always the best time, no matter your age.
Let me know what background you’re coming from in the comments! Have you figured out what you want to do after a transition into tech?